When Dan got up in the early morning light, I rushed to my suitcase and retrieved the two Father’s Day cards that I had hidden away before we left on our anniversary trip- one from me and one from the animals- and placed them on his pillow. Silly maybe, but it made him so happy. Neither Dan or I have children, but we do have a little family with our two dogs and cat. We pour our love and attention into each other, our animals, and our home, and observing Dan in all of these instances, it is so obvious to me that he would have been an amazing father.
There seems to be some karmic thing going on with me and fathers. My own father left Mom when I was a toddler and had very little to do with me as I was growing up. He passed away just as we were starting to develop a relationship in my thirties. My first husband had a wonderful father, but cancer took him before I ever had a chance to meet him. The same happened with Dan’s father, a much-beloved father and vocal performer and teacher- he died four years before I met Dan. It just seems that I was not meant to know the relationship between a father and daughter this time around. Thankfully, my mom gave me enough love to fill the gap. But still, I have always wondered what it must be like.
When I really think about it, though, I have had the influence of several excellent father figures; my Uncle Russell and Uncle Gay, my band directors in middle and high school, my clarinet mentor, Kal Opperman. Good and decent men who cared deeply and were loving fathers to their children- and who showed great kindness to me. I think of my brothers and nephews who are devoted and wonderful fathers, dear friends who are married to men who are great fathers. There are so many good men out there to set the example for the next generation of what it means to be a good parent. We are in good hands.
In the end, it’s about love- being able to give and receive it, and the ability to put the needs of another person above your own. Not everyone will know the love of a father or mother in the traditional way, but we can all find those beacons of love and support in our lives who help us make our way as humans in what can be a harsh world. There’s no one way to be a father, and parental figures can be found in many different ways. Perhaps each of us can be more aware of those we meet, truly see them, and show kindness where we can. We can all be father and mother figures to someone. I’ve found in my own life that the people who did that for me made all the difference, and I hope that I can pass that gift along. Send those ripples of love out into the world…what a difference even just one act of kindness can make.